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Olympus Has Fallen (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 24, 2013 by  



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“Olympus Has Fallen” is a popcorn action thriller!  It may be farfetched, but to enjoy this film, one should not think about logic while watching this film but to take this film for what it is…North Korean guerrillas mounting an attack on U.S. soil and taking over the White House and how one man does all he can to stop them and save the U.S. President.  One can expect plenty of action from this film plus an immersive lossless soundtrack that sounds magnificent on Blu-ray!  Overall, “Olympus Has Fallen” is an exciting popcorn action film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Olympus Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Olympus Has Fallen

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 119 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Violence and Language Throughout)

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Written by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt

Produced by Gerard Butler, Ed Cathell III, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Gill, Danny LErner, Alan Siegel

Executive Producer: Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Mark Gill, Avi Lerner, Heidi Jo Markel, Peter Schlessel, Trevor Short, John Thompson

Co-Executive Producer: Guy Avshalom, Will French, Zygi Kamasa, Konnie Ramati, Stephen Roberts

Music by Trevor Morris

Cinematography by Conrad W. Hall

Edited by John Refoua

Production Design by Derek R. Hill

Art Direction by Karen Steward

Set Decoration by Cathy T. Marshall

Costume Design by Doug Hall

Starring:

Gerard Butler as Mike Banning

Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher

Finley Jacobsen as Connor

Dylan McDermott as Forbes

Rick Yune as Kang

Morgan Freeman as Speaker Trumbull

Angela Bassett as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs

Melissa Leo as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan

Radha Mitchell as Leah

Cole Hauser as Roma

Phil Austin as Vice President Charlie Rodriguez

James Ingersoll as Admiral Nathan Hoenig

Freddy Bosche as Diaz

Lance Broadway as O’Neil

Sean O’Bryan as Ray Monroe

Keong Sim as Lee Tae-Woo

Kevin Moon as Cho

Malana Lea as Lim

Robert Forster as General Edward Clegg

Sam Medina as Yu

Ashley Judd as Margaret Asher

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured and the President (Aaron Eckhart) is kidnapped by a terrorist mastermind, disgraced former Presidential guard, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), moves to action. As the national security team scrambles to respond, the secret service ground team is wiped out and it’s up to Banning to retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and also starring Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd and Rick Yune.

What if North Korea planned an well-coordinated attack on U.S. soil and took over the White House?

This is the basis of the film “Olympus Has Fallen” directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”, “Shooter”, “King Arthur”) and a screenplay written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt.

The film would feature an all-star case with Gerard Butler (“300”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, “RocknRolla”), Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”, “Battle Los Angeles”), Dylan McDermott (“The Practice”, “In the Line of Fire”, “American Horror Story”), Rick Yune (“The Fast and the Furious”, “Die Another Day”), Morgan Freeman (“The Shawshank Redemption”, “Se7en”, “Driving Miss Daisy”), Angela Bassett (“Malcolm X”, “Boyz n the Hood”), Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”, “Frozen River”, “Oblivion”), Radha Mitchell (“Silent Hill”, “Pitch Black”, “Man on Fire”) and Ashley Judd (“Heat”, “Double Jeopardy”, “High Crimes”, “Kiss the Girls”).

With a $70 million budget, “Olympus Has Fallen” would earn over $161 million in the box office and now, the film will be released on Blu-ray in August 2013.

“Olympus Has Fallen” begins with an introduction to former U.S. Army Ranger Mike Banning (portrayed by Gerard Butler), the lead Secret Service agent responsible of heading the Presidential detail for President Benjamin Asher (portrayed by Aaron Eckhart).

Mike has a good relationship with the President, the First Lady Margaret Asher (portrayed by Ashley Judd) and their son Connor Asher (portrayed by Finley Jacobsen) who the Secret Service agents always talk to him about him becoming one of them when he grows up.

While leaving to a Christmas campaign fundraiser during bad weather, while both the President and First Lady exchange presents to one another and discuss their long lasting love as husband and wife, a tree falls in front of the convoy causing the vehicles to skid out of control on black ice on a bridge.  The lead vehicle which holds the President and First Lady are teetering off the edge of the bridge which is about to fall down the icy river.  Mike has to make a choice of saving the President or the badly injured First Lady.  Mike knows its his duty to protect the President and chooses to quickly save him right before the car falls down the cliff, killing the First Lady and the Secret Service agents in the car.

Fast forward 18 months later and we learn that since the tragic incident that killed the First Lady, Mike was taken out of his job of leading the presidential detail and moved to an office job.  While his wife Leah (portrayed by Radha Mitchell) tries to get her husband’s mind off work and focus on their lives together, with news of the South Korean prime minister coming to visit the White House, just makes Mike feel he wants to be back at his old job.

He meets up with Lynne Jacobs (portrayed by Angela Bassett), who is the Director of the Secret Service and she knows that Mike is miserable at his office job but she tells him to give it some time as the President knows that Mike had to rescue him but he just needs time away from him.  Mike sees his old Secret Service friends and meets new members of the presidential detail and the Secret Service prepares for the welcoming of the South Korean Prime Minister, who’s detail is led by Dave Forbes (portrayed by Dylan McDermott), a former Secret Service agent.

As the Secret Service carefully checks everyone coming into the White House and the President and the South Koreans are at a meeting, out of nowhere comes a Korean fighter who manages to breach American airspace and begins launching an air attack near the Pentagon and the White House.  Taking the US military by surprise, North Korean guerrilla forces mount an attack on ground, managing to infiltrate outside of the White House with garbage trucks, that are hiding high-powered weaponry to fight the Secret Service and police department.

Overpowered by the North Koreans by air and ground, Mike sees this outside of his window and runs over towards the White House to assist.  While he tries to help pedestrians and fellow Secret Service, they are outnumbered by the North Koreans but manages to sneak into the White House.

Meanwhile, inside the Presidential bunker, the South Korean President’s detail led by Dave Forbes reveals manage to take control of the situation inside the bunker and everyone is tied up or killed.  It is revealed that the mastermind of the attack is Kang Yeonsak (portrayed by Rick Yune), an ex-North Korean who has planned this attack against the United States in revenge for siding with the South Koreans and leaving his people in famine.  Having the President and his staff, Kang relays his wants and demands to the Speaker of the House, Allan Trumbull (portrayed by Morgan Freeman), who becomes the Acting President.

Kang wants the United States to pull back from the DMZ (Demilitarization Zone), which would leave South Korean vulnerable by attack by the North Koreans but he also wants the Cerberus Codes which will give him access to the U.S. nuclear missles in which all codes are held by the President and three of his government officials that are inside the bunker.

Meanwhile, Mike manages to kill some of the North Korean guerrillas but because Kang is trying to go after the President’s young son (who is hiding inside the White House) as a way to get the Cerberus code from the President, Mike Banning must do all he can to save the President’s son but also be the eyes and ears for the U.S. government and military and try to find a way to stop Kang.

VIDEO:

“Olympus Has Fallen” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  For the most part, “Olympus Has Fallen” looks very good.  Close-ups of characters show good detail, nothing great and has a bit of some softness but a lot of the shots are shot in the dark or indoors with power out.  So, there is some crush and lighting is good but this is not a film where one can expect very colorful images or vibrant colors due to the fact that Mike Banning is trying to infiltrate the White House and take on the North Koreans in the dark, in hallways or in dark rooms.   Most of the shots featuring the U.S. government are shot in a meeting room which is warm but also dark, while the bunker features a more cooler color and a bit dark.

I personally did not notice any artifact issues or banding but for the most part, picture quality for this film was very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Olympus Has Fallen” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English-Audio Description track.  The lossless soundtrack for this film is fantastic!  From the sounds of the air and ground attacks with gunfire galore, may it be the machine guns from the plane, the trucks, from the White House.  There are so many action-driven scenes that really make the film immersive during those most intense action sequences.  So, one can expect an active, immersive soundtrack throughout the film.  It’s one of the highlights of this Blu-ray release!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Olympus Has Fallen” come with the following special features:

  • Bloopers – (2:26) Short outtakes from “Olympus Has Fallen”.
  • The Epic Ensemble – (6:58) A featurette with director Antoine Fuqua and the main cast.
  • Under Surveillance: The Making of Olympus Has Fallen  – (11:36) The cast and crew discuss the story of “Olympus Has Fallen”, the challenges of creating an assault on the White House and shooting the film in Louisiana.
  • Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence – (3:30) How the action sequence with the Black Hawk was created.
  • Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists (3:02) Director Antoine Fuqua on the choreography of the action sequences.
  • Creating the Action: VFX and Design – (7:03) A look at the visual effects of “Olympus Has Fallen”.

EXTRAS:

“Olympus Has Fallen” comes with a slipcover, the DVD version of the film and the UltraViolet code that allows people to watch the film on iOs and Android smartphones and tablets.

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Can North Korean guerrillas take control of the White House?

It’s an interesting concept that may seem like a story out of a chapter from the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “24” and a concept that you really have to just turn off any logical reasoning that one will have and just enjoy the film for what it is.

In some way, it reminds me of a film that I grew up with, “Red Dawn”, how invaders from a foreign country came to America and took over.  While the concept was about young high school teenagers forming their own guerrilla unit to take their land back from hostile invaders.  And reminds me of “24” in which one can do a juxtaposition of the character of Jack Bauer and the former Secret Agent Mike Banning and America’s fixation of the one-man hero who can defeat terrorists pretty much by himself.

Again, turn off any personal logic and just watch the film for its exciting action and not question how a South Korean jet was able to invade American airspace so easily.  Not ask any questions of how no nearby military was able to launch air assaults on Korean vehicles with heavy weapons.

Granted, the film does have terrorist Kang saying that Korean guerrilla forces took over the White House within 13 minutes, but I would like to think that the U.S. government and military are much more prepared for any sign of attack on U.S. soil, let alone the White House post-9/11 and that American can be easily defeated, let alone mowed down this easily.

While 9/11 and the most recent Boston Marathon attacks are still in America’ mind of how America is in constant danger of terrorist attacks and how the U.S. government, its military and law enforcement try to do all they can to prevent or limit any attack, “Olympus Has Fallen” takes the concept that North Korea has planned out their assault very carefully thanks to the aid of a former secret serviceman.

But going back to my comparison of “Red Dawn” in terms of a film showing a “what if?”, of a probable attack on U.S. soil, part of the efficacy of “Red Dawn” was during a time when US and Russia tensions were at an all time high, threats of nuclear missiles scared Americans and now with the North Koreans developing their own nuclear weapons, one that can travel to farther distances, the fear that “Red Dawn” put in the minds of people in the ’80s was shocking but America was already in fear because it was constantly in the news of how relations between American and the Russians were tense.  But North Korea?

One’s logic can easily disprove the effectiveness of this film because they may feel its too farfetched.

Personally, similar to “Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare”, you take these probabilities and you just look at it as mere entertainment.  A look at the “what if?” America was invaded and take it as action-driven entertainment, American bravado as a nation is in the hands of one man, Mike Banning.

Gerard Butler does a great job playing the action hero, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who was picturing Kiefer Sutherland in the role and thinking what if was Jack Bauer? OK, that may not be fair for Gerard Butler because he did a great job playing the hero and giving a few memorable lines to the North Korean terrorist Kang.  In fact, for anyone who enjoys the one man action role and loved films like “Die Hard” or the TV show “24” or those who love stealth/war video games will enjoy the character of Mike Banning.  He’s a no-nonsense, kick ass character that is literally a one-man killing machine!

As for other talents featured in the film, Aaron Eckhart playing the President was very good but perhaps I hoped to see more bravado from the American President but instead we see more of that bravado from Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan (portrayed by Melissa Leo), who was the only person in the President’s team who was ready to die for her country by fighting back.

While it was great to see Morgan Freeman in the shoes of the President or “acting president”, Freeman does a great job of playing a man who has been thrusted to make important decisions that may affect America and the world.  Angela Bassett as usual, is calm, collected and did a great job for her role.

Dylan McDermott was an interesting antagonist, usually a person who tends to play the protagonist roles, it would have been good to know his motivation for being a traitor.  But for the most part, McDermott did a good job playing the part.

And as for the primary bad guy, Kang, played by Rick Yune, this is perhaps the most active role I have seen Rick play.  He was an effective antagonist, and as a person who had interviewed Rick when he was just a model, it’s great to see him land this role!

As for the Blu-ray release, this is one of those films where one can’t expect to see vibrant colors.  A lot of the scenes were shot in the dark or low-lit rooms but picture quality is still good, not great but where “Olympus Has Fallen” really shines is its lossless soundtrack.  It’s an immersive, pulse-pounding soundtrack that sounds magnificent throughout all surround channels and dialogue and music was also crystal clear!  There were a few special features but wished there was a director’s commentary included.  Also, included is a DVD and Digital Copy via UltraViolet of the film.

First and foremost,”Olympus Has Fallen” is a popcorn action thriller!  It may be farfetched, but to enjoy this film, one should not think about logic while watching this film but to take this film for what it is…North Korean guerrillas mounting an attack on U.S. soil and taking over the White House and how one man does all he can to stop them and save the U.S. President.

One can expect plenty of action from this film plus an immersive lossless soundtrack that sounds magnificent on Blu-ray!

 Overall, “Olympus Has Fallen” is an exciting popcorn action film worth watching!

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